Rector Magnificus Arthur Mol will be the frontman of a national project for the digitisation in higher education. This was announced yesterday by Pieter Duisenberg, President of VSNU.
Pieter Duisenberg in conversation with i.a. Bregje de Regt of the Student Council. © Jelle Maas
The recently appointed President of the Association of Universities in the Netherlands VSNU was at the Wageningen campus during his tour of the Dutch universities. Duisenberg, who is a former member of the Dutch House of Representatives for the VVD has been President of VSNU from the first of October. While at WUR, he spoke with Arthur Mol, among others, and was given a tour of Helix. The Student Council also had the opportunity to spar with Duisenberg during lunch.
The digitisation of university education was among the subjects discussed by Mol and Duisenberg. Dutch universities have been making joint investments in the digital backbone for years: from Wi-Fi to data storage and digital learning environments. WUR holds a leading position herein, according to the VSNU President. ‘I am very happy that Arthur Mol is willing to lead a VSNU project in which players in the sector will collaborate to explore what works and what doesn’t, and how and where we can help each other.’
Making plans concrete
Together with colleagues from Leiden University and the Open University, Mol will continue making the versnellingsagenda (‘acceleration agenda’) of VSNU more concrete. This plan contains three goals that the universities aim for: improving the connection with the labour market, accelerating the flexibilisation of education and better and smarter learning through technology.
The Rector acknowledges that WUR is one of the leading universities when it comes to the digital education reform. ‘Take for example the large number of MOOCs and our digital modernisation of campus education, such as blended learning, instructional videos and the introduction of Lab Buddy.’ Furthermore, WUR has three online master’s programmes, which is unique in the Netherlands, says Mol.
Collaboration is important if the Netherlands wants to keep its lead in university education and research, Duisenberg emphasises. He thinks that instead of fighting among one another about the distribution of funds, the universities should work together to ensure that the sector receives better financing. ‘The impact would be much greater if universities would jointly express their ambitions.’ Though he does not think that the universities really compete with each other. ‘The general vibe is a very positive one. Some topics are the subject of sharp discussions, but that only seems natural and healthy.’